Ferry link to the Northern Isle bidders: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Information requested

“the Scottish Government has awarded a lengthy contract to run this vital ferry link to the Northern Isles to SERCO. As I understand it this company has failed on many previous occasions to deliver good service . Was there not another company tendering which might offer a better service ?”


Please find our response to your request in the attached Annex.

Serco Ltd were announced as the preferred bidder on 20 September 2019 following a fair, open and transparent tendering exercise. Given the essential lifeline nature of these services, the tender was structured to attract the Most Economically Advantageous Tender based on a combination of price (65%) and quality (35%). The only other bidder was CalMac Ferries Ltd.

The new Northern Isles contract will deliver real benefits for Northern Isles communities whilst providing a commitment to the Scottish Government’s Fair Work Policy, which was a condition of the tender. Evaluation of this criteria formed part of the decision making on awarding the contract to Serco.

Until the contract is awarded and signed, I am constrained in respect of what I can say regarding details of the respective bids. However, once the new contract is awarded, Transport Scotland will publish a non-sensitive version of the contract on its website.

In response to your constituents remarks regarding sourcing a provider that can provide a “better service”, I would highlight that in 2019 the existing operator has suffered no technical disruption to services, and therefore has an excellent track record for reliability, and has a customer satisfaction rating of 97%. Local stakeholders, including both Islands Councils served by the contract, have welcomed the selection of the preferred bidder.

About FOI
The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses.


Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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